Photo by Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

More employees are asking for, and getting, the same perks as new hires.

By Anne Fisher
December 22, 2015

Maybe your childhood memories in this holiday season include at least one year when a sibling got a gift—a pool table, say, or an Xbox—that turned out to be a blast for you too.

A grownup version of that is happening right now in the workplace. “In today’s job market, employers must do all they can to attract and retain top performers,” says Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. Candidates whose skills are in demand, particularly Millennials, “want balance in their lives, and they want to work for companies that help them achieve it.”

That makes you a winner in today’s war for talent even if you don’t plan to change jobs, for one simple reason: Employees notice what their peers are doing, whether it’s working from home a couple of days a week, taking off for an extra few days of vacation, or popping out at lunchtime to make use of a company-paid gym membership. So offering these goodies to new hires while excluding valued employees who have been around a while would be, at the very least, awkward.

And that means more employees are getting the benefits offered to select new hires.

Today, 40% of companies are more willing to negotiate perks than they were a year ago, according to a new Robert Half poll of 2,200 chief financial officers and 1,000 office employees across the U.S. “This shift is not lost on workers,” the report says. About 43% of the respondents said that perks are on the discussion table more often this year than last.

Giving people a better shot at an outside life also means easing up on overwork. “Instances of businesses asking employees to take on jobs that normally require two, or even three, people are far less common now,” Hird observes. To make sure employees aren’t overloaded, he says, managers often bring in freelance consultants to handle a short-term project or a staffing gap.

All of that seems to be why most employees (77%) rated their work-life balance as “good” or “very good” in a separate Robert Half poll in early December. Almost half (45%) said they’re experiencing “greater balance” than three years ago. Just 14% reported having less.

Will that trend continue, or even accelerate, in 2016? Hird thinks so. “Employers don’t have much choice in whether they ramp up their efforts to help their teams foster work-life balance,” he says. “Hiring and retention challenges are going to persist, and the desire to find balance isn’t going away.”

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